Environmental drivers of the fine-scale distribution of a gelatinous zooplankton community across a mesoscale front

Jessica Y. Luo, Benjamin Grassian, Dorothy Tang, Jean Olivier Irisson, Adam T. Greer, Cedric M. Guigand, Sam McClatchie, Robert K. Cowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Mesoscale fronts occur frequently in many coastal areas and often are sites of elevated productivity; however, knowledge of the fine-scale distribution of zooplankton at these fronts is lacking, particularly within the mid-trophic levels. Furthermore, small (<13 cm) gelatinous zooplankton are ubiquitous, but are under-studied, and their abundances underestimated due to inadequate sampling technology. Using the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System (ISIIS), we describe the fine-scale distribution of small gelatinous zooplankton at a sharp salinitydriven front in the Southern California Bight. Between 15 and 17 October 2010, over 129000 hydromedusae, ctenophores, and siphonophores within 44 taxa, and nearly 650000 pelagic tunicates were imaged in 5450 m3 of water. Organisms were separated into 4 major assemblages which were largely associated with depth-related factors. Species distribution modeling using boosted regression trees revealed that hydromedusae and tunicates were primarily associated with temperature and depth, siphonophores with dissolved oxygen (DO) and chlorophyll a fluorescence, and ctenophores with DO. The front was the least influential out of all environmental variables modeled. Additionally, except for 6 taxa, all other taxa were not aggregated at the front. Results provide new insights into the biophysical drivers of gelatinous zooplankton distributions and the varying influence of mesoscale fronts in structuring zooplankton communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-149
Number of pages21
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - Sep 9 2014


  • Aggregations
  • Community dynamics
  • Environmental drivers
  • Fronts
  • Gelatinous zooplankton
  • Imaging systems
  • Jellyfish
  • Southern California Bight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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